My subscription expired two days ago. To check the status of your account, go to OneDrive.com or Outlook.com in a web browser, click the button in the top left corner of the page and click the Office Online tile.
You are taken to the Office page and in the top right hand corner of the page is a menu. Click My Account.
Here you can see that my account has expired. At any time I can set up an auto-renew subscription and continue using Office applications as I did before.
What happens to your Office files?
Nothing. All you need to do is to find another application or web service to open them. You could put your Office documents on OneDrive (don’t forget only 15GB is available free), and then open them in Word Online, Excel Online and so on.
These web applications are lightweight alternatives to the Office applications installed on the disk drive and they are free. No subscription is needed. Not every feature is available in the online web apps, but all the basic ones are and Office apps on the web are surprisingly good. Some people will find that they have all the features they need.
Another way to open your files is to install LibreOffice, which is free of charge. This is an alternative office suite with a word processor, spreadsheet, and so on. It loads and saves Microsoft Office files. It supports most of the features in Microsoft Office and unless you have very complex Office documents, you will find that they open almost perfectly in LibreOffice. They may require a tweak here and there, but for the sort of documents I create, LibreOffice works fine with them.
In the past I have started writing in Word, switched to LibreOffice and edited the document, switched back to Word and continued.
I frequently use an Apple Mac and used Mac apps to load and save Office documents created on Windows PCs. Office files have become a standard that many programs can read and write.
What happens to Office applications?
On day one of my expired subscription nothing happened and Office worked as it normally did. On day two I got a message to say that my Office subscription had expired. I ignore the buttons and click the cross in the top right corner. Word continues to work as normal and I am writing this post in my expired copy of Word right now.
Whether Word will continue to work forever in expired mode is doubtful. I suspect that Microsoft is just giving me time to reconsider my subscription before the applications stop working completely. Here is what Microsoft says on the subject:
“Once your subscription expires, you’ll be able to view or print documents, but you won’t be able to edit existing ones or create new ones. You could use the free Office Web Apps on OneDrive for basic editing until you get a new subscription. Any documents you saved to OneDrive will remain, and you’ll still be able to get to them.”
So presumably Office will be switched into read-only mode sooner or later and the applications on the disk drive will load documents, but only for viewing and printing. As pointed out above, your files are not locked in any way and any application that can read and write Office files can be used instead of Microsoft Office.
I have no doubt that some people have such complex documents that no other application can read them properly, but you can always try alternatives before cancelling your Office subscription and confirm that the files are OK. LibreOffice is particularly good, and there is WordPerfect Office, Kingsoft Office, Ability Office, OpenOffice, SoftMaker FreeOffice, SSuite Office, and more.
The end of your subscription is not the disaster you might think.
Update on Office
It is now January 2018 and I tried Word for the first time in a long time, just to see if it still works. I can load documents, read them and print them in the Word desktop app, but I cannot edit them or create new ones. However, they documents can still be loaded and edited in the Word web app at the onedrive.com website.